Boryeong Mud Fest 2012
There are two weekends in July when the beach near Daecheon teems with people frolicking about like mud monsters. The event can remind anyone who grew up in the 90’s of the show “Wild and Crazy Kids”, though alcohol would make it seem more like a college mud party. That particular scene is reserved for the first weekend of Mud Fest, whereas the final weekend is more family friendly. As many of my friends here do not have families of their own, we hopped on the KTX July 14th heading for the beach.
The majority of people we went with were staying at a pension about a three minute walk from the beach. They were looking forward to spending the whole weekend there, but I was content with a day and looked forward to my own bed that night. While the weather was not the best, it held off raining for most of the day. This was my first time seeing and swimming in the ocean in Korea, but the fog didn’t do much for the view. If you think the cloud cover ended up saving anyone from sunburns, you might want to think again.
Before we made our way onto the sand, we stopped by some mud painting bins to have our first experience with the rejuvenating mud. I was anxious about bringing my camera, but since I didn’t find any disposables at Lotte, I sucked it up and carried it along for the day. Aside from some small splatters that came off easily, it survived. The majority of the time we were completely mud covered, so I didn’t bother taking out a camera for those moments. We muddied each other up, sported some grey warpaint or full mud masks, and off we went to run along the beach.
The main attractions were about five minutes up the beach. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many foreigners in one place since I’ve been in Korea. There was a field of mud stations with people covered from head to toe, people throwing muddy water at passerby, and general dirty chaos wherever you looked. We added more mud to our ensembles and walked around to see what we could see. The main draw for the crowd was the inflatable slides, games, wrestling arenas and mud prison. These were all quartered off by a barricade and you needed a wristband to enter, which we didn’t bother purchasing. I’m glad that was the case, because I don’t know what would have happened to my bag in there. There was an area where you could get painted with colored mud, but the line was obscenely long and we never made our way over there.
Most of the day consisted of decorating ourselves with mud, walking around, going to the ocean to clean off, go back for more mud, go back to the ocean, and so on. We listened to some live music (in English), checked out a rather large beach mosh pit where you were hosed down, and ended up getting some delicious pizza for lunch. If you had mud that was not completely covering you, you’d be greeting a very strange sunburn later. I had a handprint on my shoulder for several days.
Overall, I had a fantastic time and would love to go again. It’s really a pity that it only happens one month of the entire year, and it’s during the rainy season. I do wish I could have sported some colored mud, but if that was my biggest regret of the day, I think we did pretty well. The only thing I would have liked to not deal with was the near constant attempt to put mud on my face by random male strangers. The first guy who landed a hit put mud all over my eyes, and it took several minutes to figure out how to see properly. The second and third people who attempted this had their wrists forcibly grabbed and pushed away from my face while I berated them about staying away from my eyes. A few elbows were also thrown. So aside from that, I had a great time. I’m definitely glad I went with such a large group, and spotting other people we knew was blast too.
If you get the chance, GO! And that’s another check off my crazy list.